What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?
If the other driver didn’t have insurance, can I still make a claim? (Uninsured Motorist Coverage)
What if the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover my damages? (Underinsured Motorist Coverage)
Can I make a claim if I only suffered injuries for a short time period?
What types of cases do you handle?
I specialize in personal injury cases in Oregon and Washington. My main office is in Lake Oswego, but I travel throughout Oregon and Washington to take on certain cases. Typical cases I handle include:
-Drunk driving victims
-Sexual assault victims
-Dangerous animal victims
–Nursing home neglect
Do you accept cases outside of Portland?
Yes. I handle cases throughout Oregon, including Bend, Klamath Falls, Medford, Roseburg, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Oregon City, Tigard, Tualatin, Wilsonville, Milwaukie, and even Pendleton. I also handle cases in Washington.
What are your fees?
My fees are contingent on the outcome of your case. This means that I do not charge for my services until we successfully win your case. At that point my fees are a percentage of the amount we obtain from the other side. There is no charge to you in the unlikely event we are unable to recover.
Will I be responsible for paying the costs associated with my case?
Unlike many other attorneys, I do not ask my clients to pay their own legal costs associated with their case. I pay them out of my own pocket and recover them out of the settlement at the end of the case. In the rare event we are unable to recover at the end of your case, I do not require you to repay me for the costs I have advanced during your case.
Do you have personal contact with your clients?
You will receive my personal attention throughout your case.
How much is my case worth?
The value of your personal injury claim is dependent on hundreds of factors. The most important are the extent of your injuries and the amount of your losses. If an attorney is not involved, insurance companies will gather your medical records and bills, and will put a “value” on your case based on the nature of your diagnoses and treatment in addition to the other economic losses you have suffered. Often these “values” do not take into consideration the extent of your “pain and suffering,” which are your personal losses (such as loss of your activities and your physical limitations). You will be given an offer by an insurance adjuster that is much lower than what they are willing to pay. Unfortunately, many people accept the “low ball” offer and are never fully compensated for their losses. An experienced injury attorney can help you recover what you have lost as a result of your injuries.
Will I benefit by hiring an attorney?
Almost all accident victims will achieve a better end-result with an experienced attorney than they would have achieved alone. The reason is that both insurance adjusters and experienced attorneys are trained to analyze all the aspects of your case to determine what a likely “fair” settlement or jury verdict would be. Your attorney can then act on your behalf to have equal footing with the adjuster when negotiating your settlement. Make sure you hire an attorney who is willing to take the time to gather all of the information to get you the best possible result. Beware of attorneys who attempt to solicit your case, as they are often looking to settle as many cases as possible while doing minimal work. You should hire an attorney who is willing to take your case to trial if needed.
How soon after my accident should I call an attorney?
Call immediately. The other driver’s insurance company will try to take your recorded statement, which can ultimately hurt your claim down the road. You are NOT required to give the at-fault insurance company a statement. They will also attempt to have you sign a medical release, which usually gives them the authority to delve deep into your medical history and into private, personal issues completely unrelated to your claim. As your attorney, I will immediately call the insurance adjusters and let them know that they cannot have any contact with you and that all communications will be through me. I will also ensure that your medical coverage and lost wages are being paid.
Can I call you even if I want to handle my claim myself?
Absolutely. I will be glad to discuss your case with you and to give you my personal opinion regarding the potential outcome of your case.
Can I still make a claim if the police officer did not cite the other driver?
Yes. Negligence is determined by the facts of the accident, not whether an officer cited one of the drivers. In fact, unless the officer actually witnessed the accident, the citation is considered “hearsay” and cannot be used at trial to determine fault. The easiest and most common way for insurance companies to deny your claim is to say that their insured driver was not at fault or that you were more at fault than their insured, in which instance you would be unable to recover any of your damages. An experienced attorney will gather all of the necessary facts associated with your accident, including witness statements, photographs of the cars and scene of the accident, and in some cases hire an investigator to present your case to a jury.
Will I have to go to trial?
Most cases settle before trial. Some cases require filing a lawsuit and going through depositions and discovery (the exchange of all relevant documents associated with both sides), but even then a majority of cases will settle before trial. However, you need an attorney who is willing to go to trial to ensure your case is treated seriously by the defense.
What is a deposition and what are some common deposition questions?
What is an arbitration?
Will the other driver be personally responsible for my injuries?
Almost never. In all but the very rarest of cases, the other driver will either have enough insurance, or the insurance company will cover a verdict in excess of the policy. If the other driver does not have insurance to cover your losses, you would make an Uninsured Motorist Claim. When you file a lawsuit, you are required by law to name the at-fault driver as the Defendant and NOT the insurance company (whether the other driver had or didn’t have insurance coverage is an issue that is not allowed in court). Even though the other driver is individually named in the lawsuit, the other insurance company will ultimately pay for your damages. They will also pay for the at-fault driver’s lawyer, all the costs associated with the defense, and even expert witnesses.
Ryan Hilts is a personal injury lawyer in Lake Oswego and Portland area. For more information, contact Ryan today.